A MANILA Regional Trial Court judge ordered the return to Canada of the garbage it “exported” to the country for violating local environmental laws.
“The Court sides with the intervenors that the disposal and destruction of the wastes will violate equally important environmental laws such as Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act,” said Manila RTC Branch 1 Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag in rejecting government lawyers plea to just have the imported garbage locally disposed of.
Furthermore, the lady judge pointed out that our country is not a “trash bin,” emphasizing “this should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”
At the same time, Judge Alisuag had ordered that the 50 container vans containing mixed Canadian garbage, including used adult diapers, be returned to its origin and that the importer shall be under obligation to send them back pursuant to RA 6969.
The judge gave her decision after complainants-in-intervention successfully proved that the local disposal of the imported garbage would violate a number of Philippine environmental laws contrary to the position taken by government lawyers.
Ang Nars Party-List, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) and the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), together with the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and three individuals, joined the lawsuit as intervenors to Criminal Case No. 14-311191 against garbage importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of RA 6969 or the Toxic Substances, Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.
As this developed, the intervenors expressed satisfaction over Judge Alisuag’s ruling.
“The intervenors are grateful to the court for upholding their legal position that disposing of the imported wastes locally violates our laws and for invoking provisions of RA 6969 to order the transport of these wastes back to Canada,” said lawyer Armand Mejia, counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition and the other complainants.
“We intervened in the motion filed by the state prosecutors, representing the inter-agency committee composed of the Bureau of Customs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Foreign Affairs, for the immediate disposition of the botched garbage shipments. Our motion in legal intervention was filed purposely to stop the wastes from being disposed of in local facilities. We invoked the civil liability of the importers to ship back the imported waste to Canada pursuant to RA 6969 and other environmental laws,” explained former Rep. Leah Paquiz of the Ang Nars Party List, which has been fighting the Canadian dumping issue since 2013.
“We thank the court for affirming our sovereign right to protect our country from dumping.”
“This is a victory for our people and for the environment. But the fight is not yet over. Now we need to ensure that the decision is faithfully carried out. That every last piece of garbage from the 103 shipping containers sent to our country is taken back to Canada, including those that were already landfilled,” said Josua Mata, Secretary-General of SENTRO.
For her part, Annie Geron , General Secretary of PSLINK, said: “This is a concrete outcome of the people’s collective efforts in defense of ourselves and the environment. We should remain vigilant and maintain our unities to ensure full compliance to the court order and hold to account the importers and the Canadian government. Ibalik ang kahuli-hulihang hibla ng basura.”
It will be recalled that 103 container vans of largely residual household garbage mis-declared as scrap plastics for recycling were illegally exported to the Philippines from Canada from 2013-2014.
Last year, garbage from 26 of these containers was illegally disposed of at Metro Clark Sanitary Landfill in Tarlac, enraging provincial officials and their constituents and buttressing the demand against foreign waste disposal in local facilities.